A bit of light reading

Amir D. Aczel’s book Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers

I quite enjoyed this book, the story of one man and his search for the origin of zero. It turns into a trek across south east Asia, where he crosses the barrier from Hindu Arabic numbers to something a little stranger. It appears that while in the west numbers were used for commerce, in the east they had a lot to do with mysticism.

The book follows the questions of the author as a child from the first time the questions occurred to when where somewhat answered as an adult. The story has the author travelling around the world focusing on what used to be part of the French colonial empire that they called Indochine.

The author sadly passed away in the year of publication, 2015. One of the mathematicians he references Alexander Grotendhieck died in late 2014. What isn’t referenced as it wasn’t widely known at that time is at the end of his life  Grotendhieck relented on the retraction that is mentioned in the book.

Due to the inclusion of Grothendhieck the group Bourbaki gets a mention in passing.

Popular Television & Physics Comedy

There is a mathematician named Douglas R Hofstader, another one named Sheldon Katz, both rather interesting in their own way.

The former is the author of several books. Godel Esher Bach is most likely the most well known of them.

The latter Sheldon H. Katz is an American mathematician, specializing in algebraic geometry and its applications to string theory. In 1973 Katz won first prize in the U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad (Wikipedia). This is him talking about something I understand some of the words but not in that order, it is way over my head. Sheldon Katz – Elliptically fibered Calabi-Yau threefolds: mirror symmetry and Jacobi forms